A second-half header from Shkodran Mustafi rescued Arsenal a point versus Manchester City, as the two top four hopefuls played out a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
The Gunners fell behind twice in their first game back from the international break, but goals from Theo Walcott and Mustafi on either side of half-time kept Arsène Wenger’s men within touching distance of those directly ahead of them in the Premier League table.
Danny Welbeck’s pace was favoured over Olivier Giroud’s towering frame in attack and it was a change that almost produced through to the early exchanges, as the ex-Manchester United striker’s pressing saw a block from Gael Clichy’s desperate clearance threaten to betray Willy Caballero on its way wide.
Arsenal’s task versus City would be made tougher by the 5th minute when Leroy Sané made full use of the space vacated by Sergio Agüero to burst through the heart of the defence, round David Ospina and slot in the game’s first goal into an empty net.
Things promised to go from bad to worse just five minutes later through Kevin De Bruyne’s curling effort onto the post, whereas this time Ospina was on hand to deny further joy in front of goal when parrying David Silva’s follow-up.
Alexis Sánchez’s shot from range in the 30th minute headlined a potential comeback from Arsenal’s behalf, as it hovered just wide of City’s goal.
Increased pressure from the North Londoners would soon pay off when Mustafi’s header back into the mixer caught out the Man City backline, leaving Walcott to take advantage of space and draw the game level in the 38th minute.
The equaliser would be short-lived, however, as an unmarked Agüero was given plenty of time to pick his spot with a low drive inside the box and make it 2-1 to the visitors a minute later.
Arsenal responded through Walcott once more, meeting Sánchez’s hopeful cross before volleying over on the brink of half-time.
Without Laurent Koscielny for the second period, the Gunners’ backline continued to look fragile in places, as Jesus Navas set Agüero up for a near-post header that was directed wide in the 52nd minute.
Mustafi would prove to be pivotal once more in Arsenal’s fightback, rising highest from a corner to slam home the equaliser with his head in the 54th minute.
Agüero popped up again inside the box to try and make amends for his earlier miss, but Ospina was on hand to follow the effort all the way into his grasp, as both teams shared the spoils at the final whistle.
By Patrick Ribeiro
David Ospina (6); Héctor Bellerín (5), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Laurent Koscielny (6), Nacho Monreal (6); Granit Xhaka (5), Francis Coquelin (4); Theo Walcott (6), Mesut Özil (4), Alexis Sánchez (6); Danny Welbeck (4)
Subs: Gabriel Paulista (6), Olivier Giroud (4), Alex Iwobi (6)